Energy Coalition Spotlight: Chair Makpal Sariyeva Highlights Initiatives for New Academic Year

By Janet Miranda

With the end of the summer and the start of a new academic year, a fresh group of students is set to take the reins for the Energy Coalition. Despite the adjustments due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year is no different.

Makpal Sariyeva, a petroleum engineering senior, is the new chair of the Energy Coalition, stepping in to lead the organization as last year’s chair, Joyce Haller Levy, stepped down. Sariyeva is the fifth chair, and the second woman to lead the largest energy-centered organization on campus, which connects students with key energy leaders and organizes events.

She is ready to hit the ground running, building on the foundation laid by previous boards even as she and the rest of the board navigate new challenges brought on by COVID-19, including the current downturn in the energy sector.

“This is a fluctuating situation, but of course we are making the necessary adjustments,” said Sariyeva. “We are already planning for most of our events to be online, including the career fair. We are trying to bring more opportunities for students and increase the number of participating companies as much as we can.”

Sariyeva has prior experience with leading a student organization through the pandemic; last year she served as president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers at UH.

The SPE chapter was recently awarded the Student Chapter Excellence Award for 2020, its first win since the organization started.

“When I first joined UHSPE, it was not very active, and for me it was a challenge to activate the group,” said Sariyeva. “Our No. 1 goal was to provide the best help and resources for our students by diversifying our oil and gas information sessions and new events.”

The UHSPE board hosted 86 events during the last academic year, even after the coronavirus had pushed events to a virtual space.

“It definitely helped me to grow as a leader. I learned a lot about teamwork,” said Sariyeva. “I enjoy working with teams, and I want to transfer that passion and drive to the Energy Coalition. The main goals are to help the students and to cement the university’s place as the energy university.”

Sariyeva and Energy Coalition board members are already working to create new avenues to help students navigate the changing energy industry and give back to the community. These are part of her personal vision for the organization.

“I want to contribute to the EC’s main goal of highlighting UH,” said Sariyeva. “I want to assist students in finding research and internship opportunities, along with volunteer work that gives back to our local community.”

Although she will graduate in December, she will remain as EC Chair as she begins work on a master’s degree in petroleum engineering. Sariyeva said she can already find ways the experience will positively impact her life.

“I am looking forward to meeting new students, alumni and energy players from our local industry,” she said.